[MUD-Dev] Nation of shopkeepers

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sun Aug 3 22:31:37 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Sat 02 Aug, Brandon Van Every wrote:

> > From: Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>

> > That is possible. Competition is what could spark the interest for the
> > players who don't want to go out and kill. Requirement here is that e-
> > conomy is sufficiently complex that going out and just collect food is
> > not an option for players.  Just as they should have to do some -work-
> > to get money. The big danger here is that this work slips into the re-
> > alm of tedious.  It should either be difficult to accomplish. The horde
> > of a dragon should be hard to get at and it should mean something. And
> > killing something to sell its equipment for some quick cash should not
> > work for very long (if it is at all possible).  If this whole thing is
> > not properly balanced and heading to an equilibrium then the game will
> > quickly fall apart and nobody will have much fun out of it.

> Tedium comes from positing that "everyone must accumulate wealth/resources
> to be successful." 

> Mathematically speaking, if the goal is wealth then you're creating a
> mono-axial system of game interaction.  Call it the "money" axis. 
> Everyone is struggling to move towards the positive end of
> the axis, and there aren't any orthogonal axes to pursue instead.  Consider
> whether the other mathematical axes of your game are really orthogonal to
> the money axis. 


> Do you always have to "save up" to get power in the game? 

This I believe is an excellent point.  But what I was aiming at was that
it should be impossible for a player to acquire so much money  that they
never need to worry about it again. And not everybody needs to get at it
at the same route. Money itself isn't the subject of the game. Just like
experience points aren't the subject of the traditional mud. If it is it
seems to me that there's something wrong with the game design.

[snipped some]

> In a mathematical, systemic sense, I can think of 3 ways to break this
> deadlock of tedium:

> 1) make other axes that are truly orthogonal.  I'll leave other people to
> give an example of this, it would make for interesting discussion.


> 2) Map the axes in 2 directions.  Why is always having "more" money the
> goal?  One could concoct scenarios where having "more" money is good for
> some things, but "less" money is good for others.  Then the player becomes
> caught in the tradeoff of whether to have more or less money at any given
> time.  The system becomes a dynamic balance between the forces of "more" or
> "less" money, rather than ever-expanding gaseous vacuum towards more money.

True. Acquiring more money isn't going to make an interesting game. Just
as acquiring more experience points or more equipment  is not fun in the
long run on on traditional muds.  At some point you have reached a prac-
tical limit and then getting more is just the same old.
A better system would require you to risk you money  in order to be able
to keep it. I.e. a farmer must invest most of her money in seeds and can
only hope that, come harvest,  there is enough to pay all debts and then
have some left to safe. Shops run much in the same way, they must invest
in getting stocks and then sell them at enough of a profit.
The big problem I see here is that this alone isn't going to spark inte-
rest in players.  The system must either be as varied as the combat  (or
better still: more varied),  or it must be a minor sideline to the game.

> 3) Make distinct points or regions of the axis qualitatively significant. 
> In this view it isn't important to have "more" or "less" money, but rather
> to have "the right amount of money" within some tolerance value.  This
> destroys the notion of accumulation.  If you've got the right amount of
> money, then there's no incentive to accumulate.  Unless you want to "hop"
> to a different "island" of money, so as to experience a different "quality"
> in the universe.  Which isn't really about accumulation, since you're only
> going to hop a known, finite distance to another island.  Although if you
> wanted to make it more challenging, you wouldn't tell anyone where the
> islands are.  Then the game becomes a matter of iterative research, with
> people wondering "hmm, I'm hanging out pretty good at 26, but I wonder what
> happens if I move to 63?"  One could metaphorize this to "tuning the
> channel on a radio."

I think I understand what you're trying to get at,  but I fail to see how
something like this could ever be incorporated in a game. At least not in
a way that would make sense to the player. I feel that the entire concept
of having too much of something would not sit well with them.

> In general, what I'm developing here is a mathematical notion of ECOLOGY,
> rather than ECONOMY.  Economy is boring.  It's based on the ever-expanding
> gas cloud known as The Almighty Dollar.  Most of us have to play this game
> in real life, which is why we don't necessarily want to do it when we're
> online.

*grin* Economy need not to be boring.  Mud economies are boring because
they're the strongest example of an inflatory economy ever modelled. At
a larger scale economies can be very interesting.  That's why there are
computer games that are nothing more than economic models.  The players
have to balance resources.  Pure growth is discouraged  by creating un-
wanted side effects.  These side effects can then be reduced,  but this
means resources will be used for that instead of for growth.
Even in a traditional mud something like this must be used to prevent a
rampant inflation as players keep pouring equipment into the shops.  It
can make an interesting sub-game,  though I do not feel it is something
that would be suited for a game  that has more than a faint resemblance
to a mud. Player expectations would work against the necessary critical
mass needed to get such a sub-game working.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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